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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  March 18, 2015 5:00am-7:01am EDT

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>> thank you, congressman. if we go back to bca, the sequester, however you want to phrase it, i have said that i'm going do protect ship building as much as humanly possible. my phrase i used that apparently nobody outside mississippi understand understands me we will protect ship building until the last dog dies. if we do that something else is going to break. because our maintenance, we're already behind on our maintenance because of sequestration in 2013. it will take us until 2018 to catch up on our maintenance on our ships. it will take us until 2020 to catch up on the maintenance of our aircraft. that's at the president's budget level. our bases were already falling below the sustainment rate that we believe we need.
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our training, the last sequestration we had air wings that had to go down to a hard deck which meant the very minimum training. our marines training at home station, the ones next to deploy and the ones after that all have suffered under the first sequestration and it would be, i think a fair word is devastating, in terms of the navy's ability to respond to crisis, to surge to meet a near peer adversary to do the things that america has come to expect and should expect from its navy and marine corps. >> thank you, we go to mike turner of ohio. >> thank you for your articulation of the issue of the threat of sequestration.
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as you're all aware today, the house budget committee will unveil it's budget and it will be funding at the sequestration number which i oppose and i think most people in the room oppose and i think your articulation of what happens. i had this conversation with most of you that the more we talk in this room about the affects of sequestration than the less we win because we're all on the same page. we have to get the message outside this room. unfortunately in this room when we talk about sequestration, we use words like readiness, risk, capability, mission. i will ask you to help give us clarity beyond risk, capability and mission. you testified only 33% are ready when our sustained readiness rate should be closer to 70%. this number is disturbing
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because of it's significance to our military and the effects of it. when a brigade combat team is the essential block of the army's combat power isn't ready and the army isn't ready to fight but they go to fight doesn't this mean that more people get injured our killed? it's not just readiness, risk, capability, or mission. more people will get injured or killed? is that correct? >> that is right, it will take longer to do our mission, it will cost us in lives, in injuries, and potentially it could cost us in achieving the goats we're attempting to achieve as well. >> so the translation we need is we can lose people will die and people will be injured? >> that is correct, sir. now general, if we go to the full sequestration for fiscal year '16, and that is an issue that is beyond what the
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budget is your goal of taking our brigades to 70% of readiness, how do you accomplish that? >> we will not. what we will do as you mentioned, with 33% ready now, that will go down. with sequestration down to 25 to 20% and have to focus all our resources on a small part of the force just to meet the everyday requirements we have in the army. the rest of the force will go untrained and that means if they are needed wethey will not be able to do the things we need them to do. without the proper training or readiness of their equipment. >> that means more people will be injured or killed. >> that's correct, sir. >> general, you also testified the number of active duties in the army has fallen by 80,000 in the last three years and fall another 70,000 if full sequestration comes into effect. with only 430,000 troops
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remaining, the army would be substantially smaller than it was on 9/11. we all know the world is not a safer place today than it was then. could you please describe how that loss of manpower translates into risk to our troops of injury and people being killed? >> it means as the chief said that with fewer -- pardon me, fewer soldiers to go out to do missions, we continue to run the risk, as we say, of sending an unprepared soldier into a very dangerous environment. we're doing everything we can to try to minimize that. at 420,000, our judgment is very clearly that we would not be able to meet the defense strategic guidance. that would leave us absolutely no room to respond to the kinds of unforeseen contingents we have seen in the past 18 months, whether from russia
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and ukraine, ebola in west africa, or isil in syria and iraq. i don't think the american people are really postured to accept a united states military that cannot answer the bell where the challenge may arise. again, it comes back to risk means people dying. risk means greater injuries risk means people don't come home. >> secretary james, if sequestration level funding goes into effect, what's the most difficult strategic decision you have to make? >> i worry about the very things that you said. we will have airmen who will needlessly die and become injured. i worry we will be slower to respond now. right now, our hallmark is that we're ready to fight tonight. sequestration could endanger that. as you heard my colleagues say, ultimately we could lose in trying to reach our objectives. our national requirement strategy is that we do three very important things in a near
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simultaneous fashion. we cannot do them in that sort of fashion under sequestration. that's our best military advice. >> thank you, mr. johnson. >> thank you, mr. chairman. sequestration assumes that the nation's debt is out of control and so therefore we must cut spending. we cannot increase tax revenues, we must cut spending. if that is true, i'm glad that both defense and nondefense spending are included in sequestration. i myself do not accept that premise. but if i'm wrong, and if it is true, then i'm glad that defense and nondefense spending are covered by sequestration. that is one point i wanted to make. the other point i want to make is that sequestration is the wrong way to cut spending. both in the defense and in the
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nondefense sectors of our budget. why? because sequestration is just a blunt force instrument cutting across the board regardless of whether or not it is sensible enough to do so. it is true that fraud waste and abuse exists in both the defense and nondefense sectors. it is true. but it is also true that there are some sectors that we're doing some excellent cutting edge, necessary spending that does not need to be cut. and that's why sequestration needs to go away, it needs to go away for both defense and nondefense. more over, i think we need to come off of the attitude that we
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can never increase taxes because we know some folks some corporations don't pay any taxes. we know that middle class, middle income, and working people pay taxes. we know the tax code is riddled with tax loopholes that enables who can afford to pay not to pay. so they are getting a free ride, talking about entitlement. talking about an entitlement mentality. we have so many folks that can afford to pay that are not paying and i think it is obscene that they would create the conditions under which we are here today which is a hollowing out of our defense spending, providing and protecting and promoting the common defense of this country.
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it is something that we must do. and we have had a lot of unforeseen incidents or unforeseen developments that have occurred and you have all related to them. isil, russian aggression. just if -- if each one of you -- well i'll ask any who wants to respond. describe the key security environment challenges and threats that you're most concerned about and the ability of your service to address them. what challenges have emerged in the last year that the defense strategy of your services budget request does not adequately address and similarly in what areas have you recommended reduced funding level and for the secretaries, i'll ask that question. >> congressman johnson, i guess i can start.
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as i mentioned just previously, we can't pick and choose the things that we worry about most. we have to be equally prepared to respond to where ever our national command authority sends us. where ever the commanders believe there is a need. whether it is isil, where we have army forces in iraq, or whether it was in west africa with ebola, army special operation forces throughout africa responding to a variety of emerging terrorist threats there. we have, again as i mentioned our opening comment forces in estonia, lithuania, forces in poland teaming with those nations. and they're very important part of our new posture in the european continent. we have some 20,000 soldiers
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which we view as a longstanding mission on the korean peninsula. certainly with the threat of nuclear weapons there that is a critical challenge and i could go on and on as i'm sure the other services could as well. >> thank you my time is expired. >> thank you, chairman cline. >> thank you mr. chairman and ladies and gentlemen, for being here and for your service. i think we picked up the thread here that all of you and the witnesses would like to see us spend more than the sequestration level of the president's budget or greater and i think all of us know we're trying to find a way here in congress to make sure we get to a number like that. i share your concerns about readiness. general, i know we're very clear about it. i have personal concerns about the army readiness with my family and certainly we should all be concerned. and sometimes we have issues
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about readiness that are not about money. i know that we had a discussion on the phone the other day, and general i'm sorry i'm going back there to that issue. secretary mccue, you talked about we send our young men and women into, quote, a very dangerous environment. some couple weeks ago we had apparently a very dangerous environment in yemen. it was so dangerous that we sent extra marines in there. and then it was so dangerous we evacuated all of the americans. closed the embassy and took the ambassador out. and in that process, even though we were on stand by not off shore, somebody made a decision and i want to talk about that on the record somebody made a decision to destroy all the cruz weapons and have the marines there to provide protection in this very dangerous environment turn over their weapons. it is my opinion that is an in intolerable position for our americans, particularly men and
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women in uniform marines or soldiers or sailors or airmen, to be in a very dangerous situation and depend upon trusting the very people that put us in that dangerous situation to not do us any harm while we turn over all of our weapons. so, general dunbar. we need to get for the record, is my account of that roughly what happened? the marines, when they got on that civilian aircraft were totally unarmed, is that correct? >> that's correct. >> somebody made that -- who, for the record, who gave the senior marine there the order to do that? >> the senior marine was under the united states central chain of command. >> so the commander of sent come gave the order to the senior marine in yemen to disarm. >> the senior cent com officer on the ground gave that order. >> the decision as well as you
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can relay for the record, was made where by whom? >> the ambassador and the commander of centcom approved the plan and my understanding is it went back to washington d.c. at the policy level. >> also for the record, i think it is not classified that there were navy marine corps assets not far offshore is that correct? >> there were congressman. >> general dunford he already knows how i feel about this. i think that is intolerable. if that can happen to marines, it can happen to soldiers anybody, to be in a very dangerous places and be ordered to turn over their weapons while they're still in a very dangerous place to be there as part of the armed forces. i would hope that senior leaders sitting at this table, we would do everything, you would do
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everything in your power to make sure that does not happen again nap is a outrageous situation. thank you, general. i just wanted to get that on the record. we had the assets and trained people on the ground in a very dangerous place and they were disarmed, put on civilian airplanes and sent home. i yield back. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i wanted to get some more clarification on the type of role that sequestration is playing in terms of us wanting to, i guess sustain our superiority that we have when it comes to areas like ready readiness, technology, combat gear versus other powers when it comes to try to stay ahead when it comes to the cutting edge in these areas. >> i'll speak for the navy and marine corps.
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we have to stay ahead in terms of platforms, in terms of weapons, ordinance, systems, in terms of surveillance, in terms of any number of things. the danger that sequestration poses is that we will not be able to surge navy ships because they will not be maintained and we will not have the train -- we will not have done the training to get them ready to go. same thing with the marines. we will have navy ships forward, we will have marines forward. it is the next to go, the ability to surge. looking further out to the future, our technological edge is one of the crucial things we have. maintaining money for research and development and science and technology. and bringing those scientific advances to the war fighter in the field.
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those things are at risk, particularly on any access or denial, that adversaries may try to force us out and try to push us further and further afield. the weapons that we need, the ordinance that we need, the numbers that we need to do that will be at risk. the new technologies to meet some of the threats that we're facing now and that we're going to be facing in the not too distant future, they go -- that research goes down. that science and technology goes down as much as we try to protect it, we simply cannot do that that. to use the language that other service secretaries in the service chiefs have used, the risk that we take is that we
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will get there later than we should, more americans will die, or be wounded, and we take a chance at losing. >> congressman, if i might add, for the army and i'm sure the marine corps does so well is the young man or woman that picks up a rifle and goes into those dangerous situations. it is because of that young warrior that we need to make sure the weaponry and the platforms that support them have a superiority edge over whomever is our competitor at the moment. and as secretary mavis just very accurately noted that for all services, especially the army, the research and develop so critical to develop the
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weapons, systems, protection programs, that has been cut since 2012 by a third, overall, we're fencing off s & t because we feel that's the core of tomorrow's technology. our ability to look into the future and ensure that over ten years that generally takes to develop some of these next generation platforms we have it available. and with this funding level, we will not. the army will not have a major developmental major modernization program until the next decade. so sequestration only makes that worse. >> congressman we have wrote the blueprint for how to build the world's largest air force. we have other countries who have seen it. and the capability gap is clearly closing, no question about that. and the trick over time is how you manage that gap. i use a nascar analogy a lot when i talk to airman.
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if the car trailing you has been behind a couple of laps but consistently slowing, eventually they will get to a point although they are still behind you, you cannot keep them from passing. that is what we worry about and try to manage this balance. when you hear terms like high risk or significant risk coming from a military leader you should translate that as not guaranteed success. that's what it means to us. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you for being here and for service to our country. secretary mccue, good to have you back in your old stomping grounds. i wanted to ask you, again, i'm staying on sequestration and its impact to our military. the members of this committee understand its implications and how adversely it is affecting our readiness and our ability to meet our challenges secretary james made reference to in our three objectives as the
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military. and in fact, i can talk about specific parochial examples. of its impact on my district as many can. i have army depots laying off 190 workers right now. i have part of ft. bennings, they could talk about specific examples, and that is just parochial. we hear from you regularly about impact and capabilities. our colleagues don't understand. and you uniquely have been here and you understand how difficult it is for us to convey to members focused on tax policy, medicare, or telecommunications what we're concerned about. so we really count on y'all, that's a southern term by the way, we count on you to help us help communicate that message. i shared with chairman dempsey
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that we have a need for members to understand. in fact some in our leadership think this is working out well for the military. they're not hearing squealing or the sky is falling from some of y'all. i'm curious, why do you think it has been difficult for those of you in the leadership to convey specific examples of how this is very detrimental to our ability to protect this country? >> are you asking me? >> we'll start with you, please. >> well, part of the reason, and why i think this opportunity, this moment is important, is we tend to talk in code. risk and other such words that don't convey to the average citizen, understandably, what that really means. loss of life, et cetera. the other is frankly one of opportunity. all of us go out and give speeches, talk to think tanks and try to engage in a way that gets the word out as to the reality of the challenges that we're facing. but obviously we have to do a lot more.
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the last point i would make before i turn over to my colleagues, i have said before that in part we are victims of our own success. we came here before it passed and predicted the affects. there after, most of those effects were not seen or felt because i think, against the odds, all of the services managed the unmanageable. we moved money, we put off necessary programs, we delayed modernization, but those cuts and those delays and we will do it next year have run out. and why the return of sequestration added already to the cuts we have taken will be such a back breaker for this united states military. i would argue as the military at large. >> i define it as we're mortgaging the future to barely meet today's needs. that's really my concern. we're doing everything we can to just barely meet commitments,
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and are not overwhelming commitments to sustain normal security. yes we have an operation in iraq. we have a small operation in afghanistan. yes we're doing small things but those are not big operations. that is just day today commitments and we are struggling to meet those commitments and we are mortgage mortgaging our modernization and our readiness to meet these. if something happens now we will not be able to respond in the way that people are used to us responding. >> what i am after is giving specific examples. and getting you to help us. that is a very good example, sometimes parochial examples. that is platforms you may have to give up, installations you may have to close, whatever so you can help understand. we have 30 to 45 seconds of a
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member's attention on the floor before they move on thinking about something different, that is a challenge. >> so congressman rogers, we have a list of specific things to include. in aiddition to the retirement in the president's budget we have to reduce the u2 the combat air patrols, the awacs and 10 fleets gone. so all of these things would go away and we would have to touch literally every part of our air force to come up with that differential in money. it would be enormous. we would be willing to go anywhere and talk to anybody. maybe you could give some of these threat briefs. things we know but perhaps they don't know. and i just hope and pray it doesn't take a catastrophe in this country to wake up. >> excellent. thank you. >> so do we all. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to begin by thanking each of you for your
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service and through each of you thank the men and women who serve under you for their service to this country. i would like to begin and ask you the following series of questions. as i understand it today in iraq and syria, the ground forces raiding against isis, the army, iranian sponsored shiite militias, and kurd ish kurdish perb ish kurdish. to the degree they exist, moderate syrian oppositional forces which we're helping to train and equip. will those ground forces be sufficient to meet the president's objective of de grading, defeating and destroying isis?
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sufficient to meet the presence objective of degrading, defeating, and destroying isis? >> what i would say is depending on how well the iraqi security forces do, they're performing incredibly well. the iraqi security force still being trained, not sure. i'm not sure who they're loyal to, i have concerns about their participation. we're working to train the moderate syrian opposition. i think it's still time will tell. i think we halted the movement of isil. i think we had some initial with the great work of the air force, navy, and the marine corps air, and i think we have to wait and see how well these ground forces do. we simply don't know yet. >> has any other country anywhere in the world especially middle east pledge ed ground force to this effort? >> there are special operation force that are participating in supporting and training the iraqi security force and kurdish peshmerga, and as we begin to train the sunni moderates.
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>> including those forces on the ground and pledge for the future, is it too soon to tell -- >> that is correct. >> i would assume that if we're going to achieve the present stated objective of defeating and destroying isis it is very possible that we will need additional ground force and possible we as a congress will have to make a decision about funding and supporting our ground force in those two countries. i guess my question for you and secretary mckyoucue is does your budget have have sufficient resources to ensure that we are training our soldiers, that the readiness is at the level necessary, and that we can support them through the following budget year to the degree we need to, to be sure they can prevail and that we
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don't unnecessarily put them in harm's way. for readiness and equipment. >> if we had to, the president's budget allows us to sustain where we are at in readiness. maybe increase it a little bit. if we get into a sustained conflict, for years, we need more dollars to develop the proper readiness for us to repeatedly redeploy our soldiers into harm's way. we do not have that level of budget today. >> in this budget? >> in this budget. >> i would fully agree. i would note, of course, there is always an option to ask us to stop doing the things we are doing right now, given the missions that all the services are. i can't imagine what that would be, but short of a very dramatic unpalpable thing we
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would not be able to meet that. >> secretary james talked about more difficult choices if we continue with the budget caps and the sequester. i think that should extend to political choices, diplomatic choices and choices our allies make you mentioned in response to russian aggression in ukraine, we have deployed force to poland latvia. when you look at their defense budgets, what they spend in connection with their gdp compared to what we spend is insufficient. >> what more do we need to do to make difficult decision that's are more in their national interest than ours? >> that is a big challenge and a moving target and one that secretaries of defense, and going back to my time, secretary gates have tried to press upon.
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largely european allies. only four of the 28 nato nations currently meet the 2% requirement. i might add astonia is one of them. as you noted when it comes to russia and the concerns that we see driving out of ukraine, all of us would like to work more closely with our european allies. >> thank you. >> mr. conway. chairman conway. >> thank you, chairman, and thank you folks for being here today. i'm encouraged that -- it has been my experience, that when a question rises to the top level of the committee up there we're gaining some traction. i want to follow up on mr. miller's comments about auditing. that probably doesn't shock anybody. one quick anecdote. i chaired this with secretary mabus the other day. i was touring the " "uss texas" and we were having an impromptu town hall meeting and one of the kids asked me show
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that audit thing coming with auditing the department of defense. i don't know if that was a plant? >> how about those sailors? >> maybe you suck it up to the armed services committee. does the president's budget fund or properly fund the budget we all want to get to, which is audit statements for the department of defense? >> we assess the funding available to the army initiative within the president's budget is sufficient to carry us forward and meet those milestones. >> mr. chairman, the president's budget is sufficient for the navy and marine corps to meet the milestones. i would like to circle around things we don't control that worry me whether or not we will meet this audit.
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not in terms of funding but in terms of assurance of numbers. >> and yes, for the air force, but with that save caveat. >> i think, to brag on the marine corps you guys led the way on auditing. we moved from getting ready to audit to auditing, and the services are doing that. it's a better way the marine corps lead the way again. it was before you were getting started. so i think you're making reference to other agencies that are part of your financial services are not audited. is it your sense and commitment that who ever is in charge of those efforts rival your own or do we need to harass them more? >> what i sense is we are sharing your concerns to use the military term, in a robust way, with those -- particularly
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with defense finance and accounting service. that is the one that concerns us. that is the one that does not have the internal controls that we need to have some assurances about the numbers they give us. >> the other secretaries, miss james? >> likewise, we have communicated with the top leaders of the department of defense, they're aware that we're concerned about this. the comptroller to whom the report -- so i think everyone is work g working collaboratively to try to -- working collaboratively to try to get there from here. >> i think they have equally extended our concerns to the appropriate departmental authorities. part of the problem i think they face is that like the rest of us their customer base is
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coming down. they're going to write fewer checks as it decreases. their business flow will decrease, and i know you understand the realities of that kind of trend line more than anybody else perhaps in this room. but i have not seen or can measure an amount of response to what most of us think is an inescapable reality. as my colleagues have said, it will affect our ability to receive a clean audit, to give -- given the relationship amongst all of us with that organization. >> let me just finish up by telling you thank you for your service across -- all of your responsibilities, but thank you for what i consider full throated attempt to get this deal done. the american taxpayer would love to have the seal of approval that is out there, and i appreciate each of your commitments to doing that.
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in the face of sequestration and budget cuts and the other things going on i thank you for your efforts on getting that done and i will yield back. thank you. we're going to have the comptroller here with us tomorrow and there will be another opportunity to raise this question. i do agree with the ji-man this is really important. if we're going to make the case to increase defense spending, there has to be accountability that goes with. this carries big implications. >> thank you, mr. chairman. this question is directed at secretary james. i'm a beneficiary of close air support from 810 so i'm disturbed to hear it is back on the chopping block. i would like to point out and maybe you could comment on this too, in an era where we seem to be more engaged in the type of combat where it would be more useful, is it wise to put it on
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the chopping block? and if it is, what is the weapon system platform that will be replacing it that will provide close air support to our 0 are infantry men? >> congressman let me start, and then i want general walsh to chip in. he is a former a-10 pilot. the a-10 ended up on the list to reduce with the greatest of reluctance. it is a budgetary matter. it literally after reviewing all of the alternatives of coming up with the budgetary savings, this one because of the single purpose nature of close air support and that is how we got to where we are today. in terms of the next aircraft including the f-16s and es and so forth they will be with us for years to come as will eventually come in to play the f-35.
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that one is on the horizon. it's not with us yet, but it will be coming online in the next few years. >> to that point before we move on, the platform you just mentioned, what type of rotary gun do they have in there? are they 30 millimeter mortar? 30 millimeter guns and just as capable as a wart hog in terms of support? >> it depends on the scenario. none of them carry a 50 millimeter, it is a 25 millimeter. in the case of the f-16. the issue is not the a-10. it is the budget control act causing us to make very tough priority decisions. when we talked to the combatant commanders and where they prefer we take the cuts and where they prefer that we prioritize their funding. the a-10 was not one of them. we have done the operational analysis on this. we would love to show you the impact on the battle space. this is just the front age of a
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lot of very ugly decisions if we stay at this funding. the workhorse has been the f hn-16, not the a-10. are there scenarios where you prefer an a-10 to be there? absolutely. some you prefer j-dams and my marine infantry prefer a f-18. the scenarios change that requirement. the mission is not that particular airplane. the issue here is not -- we're going to be casts 10, 20, 50 years from now and the a-10 will not be doing it then. we have to look to how we transfer to a future capeability that will work from a low threat and high threat battlefield and that is what we're trying to do. we're working this in terms of weapons systems, weapons we can put on different platforms, there is no question about our commitment to this mission and we have about 140,000 data
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points from the last seven years to prove it. >> mr. chair, i apologize, i lost track of your name, sir, what was your name again? >> mark welsh. >> thank you. i would love to see the studies because my understanding from past efforts to relace the a-10 in the '80s and '90s were pretty much duds.
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